Ok, so if you’re not into Battlefield 3 or 4 then the title of this post is probably nonsense. I’m embedding the video below for some context.
I’ve worked at SAIT for several years now. After graduation, I was lucky enough to get in with the Commercial Services department which allowed me to gain even more experience with the internal workings of an educational institution as well as spend time working on some of my less ‘programmy’ skills. This included acting as a contracted manager for a medium-sized project creating the groundwork for an internally branded and operated RFID based commerce card.
So here I am, sitting in one of a dozen local Starbucks (I really, really hate this place) hooked up to the Telus open wireless hot spot in this area (protected via SAIT VPN) and just had a very funny epiphany. Hopefully, you won’t think less of me after my confession, Gentle Reader.
You see, for a very long time I’ve compared myself to my ideal self. By that I mean the self I thought I was going mature into. You know, you go through your adolescence slowly building up an idea of what you would like the rest of your life to be like. In some cases, you’re correct, usually the easy stuff. Marriage, kids, house ownership. In most others, you’re grossly incorrect but be that as it may, you still have that picture in your head of where you wanted to be and what you wanted to be doing at particular phases in your life. And by ‘you’ I guess I really mean ‘me’.
For those of us that were much less ambitious in our youth, a lot of those things weren’t pursued. I didn’t think post-secondary education was important and took a major short cut. Though there was a close call, I didn’t consider marriage until well into my 20’s and only when I’d finally met my ‘match’.
So if I say that I haven’t been completely satisfied with my life, particularly my professional life, and some of the decisions I’ve made, I think that’d be a pretty good summation of where I was sitting… up till about six months ago.
You see it wasn’t until then that I started getting the opportunity to manage our team and aid in the direction we were moving. Though I’m still pretty green, I’m learning all the time about skills that I truly see as valuable. Yes, I’m getting to the point and it is this….
I haven’t had to take a single ‘sick’ or ‘mental health’ day in several months, probably stretching back to April or so. Like, at all. This is significant as it illustrates a willingness to overlook those shitty days where you wake up, you aren’t feeling 100% and really don’t want to go into work. I’m not positive on this, and I’m sure Sly will correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall that sort of time period without me needing to take a day off a month for decompression or real sickness.
The only way I can explain this is that I’m really finding a certain degree of satisfaction with my work and I really want to be there. I’m not at work today due to a Flexday need and I really wish I was. So much so that I’ve actually been logged into my computer at work, spending some time on a problem that has dogged me for a couple of days. Isn’t that weird?
Yeah, it kinda is. But I’m going to accept this new position and do the very best I can to fulfill the requirements set out before me. Who knows? Maybe I’ve finally found what I was really meant to be and can banish all that adolescent ‘wishing’ to the past and continue, with open eyes and fewer expectations, into the future.
Edit: I never did post this. Not sure why. Perhaps too bitter? Fuck it. It’s going up.
We’re back home. yay.
Perhaps not the most interesting way to phrase it but there it is. Three weeks in Europe, bouncing around and seeing the sites, really makes you want to stay. Like seriously stay. I considered it for longer than I probably should have.
One negative aspect of living freely while traveling is seeing so many “possibilities”, and probably not valid possibilities at that. You look around at some location, the locals going about their daily business and think to yourself, “You know, I could do this. I could do this right here. I don’t have to go back.”
Of course, that’s bullshit. There’s so many things you’re not thinking about when romanticizing the possibility of sticking around in a foreign country: where are you going to sleep? How are you going to find work? What about health insurance while you’re in a country that’s not going to be happy if you fuck yourself up and need hospitalization? None of these things pop into mind when you’re gazing lovingly at that pretty bridge or amazing vista in the distance. No, you just want to experience those things day in, day out while you live there.
Sure, the idea is great but the reality really sucks; trust me, I lived it. For almost a year I lived in London and during the time I was trying to survive, I didn’t see a goddamned thing that could be called a tourist attraction. And that’s what happens most of the time; you’re so busy working and commuting that you don’t make time to do the sightseeing you thought you’d do.
We’ve only got another couple of days left in our summer vacation; time to return back to Canada where ‘real’ life prevails.
Back to work, at a job I’m not sure will fulfill my requirements for the future. Back to a shitty little apartment, that doesn’t fulfill anyone’s requirements. Back to a boring town that shuts down around 2200 unless you like going to the bars to drink your face off and deal with the Cro-Magnons which seem to live in those locations. Don’t even get me started on the dearth of cultural opportunities we don’t have in Calgary. Wait… is that a double negative?
To say that I don’t belong in Calgary sounds… disingenuous at best but it’s hard to argue that it makes for a decent ‘base’ of operations for travel. Not as good as, say, Toronto but that city has its own issues that I’m not sure I’d be happy with. It’s a central city with an International Airport with Oil and Gas money flowing through the streets. Good place to work but a great place to get away from.
As I get older, I realize that I am truly nomadic in temperament, always thinking forward to the next time I can be on the road, doing something new and interesting, seeing how different cultures deal with things so very differently that we do.
Here’s an example: this morning at breakfast, Sly pointed to the jam sitting on the plate of one other diner the next table over. It was in a small, glass container with a metal lid holding an individual portion. It was, actually, a very small jar of jam. Back in Canada, you would have received the same condiment in a plastic cup with a tear-away lid. I can only imagine someone from the UK showing up in Calgary, maybe Cora’s or Phil’s, and having these shitty little packages sitting on their table. How quaint, they would say, when in reality it’s probably bloody shocking to them.
I know I’m probably nit-picking, but I appreciate the ‘old’ societies. They have different worries than we do and they concern themselves with the small societal problems a whole hell of a lot less than we do. Want to put some boobs in your movie? PG! Want to show someone getting their head blown off? 18+! Seems sensible to me.
Their cities are more refined with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years to make themselves better. Transit systems work the way they are planned to. London Transport services the city with its population of eight million and they do it well. Calgary Transit can’t seem to service one million.
And here’s the rub: I KNOW it sounds like some silly traveler on a trip enamored with a city he’s only been in for a couple of weeks. Fuck that, I used to live here and know about this city, warts and all, and would still choose to emigrate here if I got the opportunity.
Right on schedule, I’m getting maudlin just before my return to Canada. This always happens so I am prepared. I want the rest of my trip to rock and make it home in one piece.
I’m typing this out on the Eurostar train headed from Paris to London but having some trouble with tethering to my phone’s hotspot so it’s going into Notepad++ with a transfer to the weblog at some point tonight (I have a whole other diatribe I’d like to post on the shit mobile environment we have going on in Canada compared to here but that will be for another time). Little plug for Notepad++: if you’re a software developer and don’t have it installed on the mobile devices you’re using, you’re doing it wrong. And by ‘it’ I mean life.
Paris has always been an enigma for me. I don’t know how to categorize it in my mind. So much history in so concentrated a location with so little time to get a real handle on it. This visit has been far too short.
I’d like to come back here again and spend a week visiting some of the locations I’ve never managed to visit. One being the Palace at Versailles which holds so much history, is so close to Paris but has never been part of any itinerary I’ve put together. Perhaps it was my youth that caused me to ignore this before, or on the last trip here for our honeymoon, just a lack of funds and a wish to leave the “expensive” countries. This time we just sort of lost track of time and got stuck spending two of our days at Disney.
As I get older the requirements for a “fun” vacation have definitely changed. Now I want to get shit-faced on expensive French wine instead of the cheap shit, enjoy a fancy meal instead of eating “street meat” from a hole in the wall, stay at hotels and not hostels. It’s not much to ask and can add so much to a trip and how you enjoy it. Sleeping in a dorm room with fourteen other people isn’t always conducive to a good night’s sleep.
Some of those changes revolve around the fact that I have the means, now, that these things are not out of reach. I’ve worked hard to change my economic status in life so that I may enjoy these experiences as I get the opportunity. We’ve just passed the boundary into middle class which, I guess, is a step in the right direction.
My first recreational trip to Europe in 95 was very different as I didn’t have the means to enjoy the trip and I was stuck in the Eastern bloc countries which were cheaper than western countries. Hostels, doner kebaps, and shitty beer were all part of the trip with no other options available. Shit, I remember losing my wallet on Mykonos with $1000 CDN in it. That was a hard fucking day. That money was ear-marked to keep me alive for a month. (Yes, Virginia, you could do (cheap) Europe on 30$ per day back in the 90’s). Now it’s easy to blow the same amount of money on hotel rooms over a few weeks.
All told, Paris is a wonderful city that I’ll be returning to sooner rather than later.